Real Simple answers your questions.

Q. Should you rinse chicken before cooking it?
Beth Ann Stasiowski
Hanover, Maryland

A. It turns out that rinsing raw poultry is for the birds (sorry!). Chicken companies go through meticulous cleaning processes to ensure your meat is as germ-free as possible before it’s shipped to grocery stores, says Richard Lobb, a spokesperson for the National Chicken Council. And, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, any bacteria that may be lingering there will be killed off in the oven anyway. Just make sure the chicken’s internal temperature reaches 165° F.

If you want to get rid of the juices on the meat, pat it with a paper towel instead of rinsing it. That way, you avoid the risk of contaminating the sink and anything else that the bacteria-soaked water and juices touch. Simply dry the poultry with a paper towel right in its original packaging. Bonus: Drying the meat in the container saves you from having to clean the cutting board. It also prevents the seasoning from falling off and helps the chicken brown better.

Always remember to wash your hands and anything that the raw meat or its juices touch to avoid cross-contamination. ―Elinor Smith

Ask a Question
Got a practical dilemma? Submit your question.

Your submission to, including contact information, gives us the right to modify, use, distribute, reproduce, publish and display the submission indefinitely in all media, means, and forms without any payment to you. You hereby represent that you haven't copied the content from a book, magazine, newspaper, or other commercial source. Your submission to, and your use of the website are subject to Real Simple's Privacy Policy and Terms of Service.

(For questions about your subscription, please visit the Customer Service Help Desk.)